A racing concept that previews Hyundai’s future high-performance plans

The slick little speed hatch you see here is called the RN30 Concept, and it just broke cover at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. Using the latest-generation i30 as a foundation, Hyundai built the RN30 as a track-only specialty that showcases the company’s performance chops.

Making it go is a modified 2.0-liter engine, the same powerplant slated for use in a forthcoming high-performance production model. Extra grunt is added courtesy of a larger turbocharger, with forged engine components installed to handle the increased boost. All told, Hyundai says output peaks at 375 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque, far surpassing the current road-going i30’s 138 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque.

Complementing the high-strung 2.0-liter is a variety of weight saving measures, including a stripped-down interior, and extensive use of a new high-performance plastic. Hyundai says it wasn’t satisfied with the current crop of carbon fiber-reinforced polymers out there, so it developed its own material with the chemical company BASF to create something that’s strong, lightweight, and funny enough, environmentally friendly.

Cog swaps are handled by a wet-type dual-clutch transmission, which sends the muscle to the pavement via a high-performance AWD system and electronic limited-slip differential setup. There’s also a “sport mode” and Electronic Variable Exhaust, although I don’t know why you’d need anything other than max attack for a race car.

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Why It Matters

You’re not alone if you find the words “sporty” and “Hyundai” to be an odd coupling, but truth be told, the South Korean automaker has been busy padding its performance resume as of late. At the Frankfurt Motor Show last year, Hyundai launched its “N” division (think of it like BMW’s “M” skunkworks), which has had a hand in churning out all sorts of speedy offerings, including the mid-ship RM15 and RM16, and the over-the-top 2025 Vision Gran Turismo. And don’t forget – Hyundai has a bid in the World Rally Championship as well.

It’s all rather reminiscent of what Hyundai did to boost its luxury cred in the run-up to the release of the Genesis brand.

Quite frankly, I’m excited to see what Hyundai has planned for production. One of the cool things about the RN30 Concept is that it’s relatively realistic – 375 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque from a turbo 2.0-liter sounds about right. Hyundai could have said this thing makes 900 horsepower from a hybrid W-16 with four superchargers and nitrous oxide distilled from unicorn farts, but it didn’t, and I like that. 

Look for the i30N sometime next year.

Read our full review on the Hyundai N Concept RN30 here.

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